Joker (2019, dir. Todd Phillips)

A clown with mental health issues tries to be loved and recognised. Well-shot but superficial origin story, heavily reliant on its stylistic and plot inspirations (early Scorsese movies, Bernhard Goetz). Sometimes impressive, sometimes misguided, but anchored by a committed central performance nevertheless.

Vice (2018, dir. Adam McKay)

A satirical biopic of GW Bush’s vice-president Dick Cheney. Soberer than The Big Short, this thematic sequel offers an accessible overview of Cheney’s rise to silent power and his ultimate betrayal of himself. The film doesn’t get inside its protagonist, but is revelatory nevertheless.

First Man (2018, dir. Damien Chazelle)

Biopic of Neil Armstrong, from test pilot to Apollo 11 days. An impressionistic, oblique approach doesn’t really penetrate the subject, leaving Gosling free to offer another blank, introverted performance. Impressive rather than good, though with a sterling cast of character actors in support.

The Negotiator [AKA Beirut] (2018, dir. Brad Anderson)

An ex-diplomat is recalled to Beirut to negotiate a hostage release. Generally smart thriller which downplays the geopolitics of the region and wisely focuses on multiple warring groups after the same prize. Solid direction and unshowy playing helps.

Bad Times At The El Royale (2018, dir. Drew Goddard)

One night at a motel on the California/Nevada border, where no-one is who they appear to be. Twisty-turny self-conscious comedy-thriller; lots of fun if you go with it, though the movie’s stately pace may frustrate some.

Wheelman (2017, dir. Jeremy Rush)

A getaway driver finds himself in the middle of a double-cross. A lean, effective thriller that’s equal parts The Driver and Locke. Frank Grillo makes for a pleasingly ordinary protagonist. Shades of John Carpenter and Walter Hill throughout. Recommended.

Death Note (2017, dir. Adam Wingard)

A teenager finds a notebook with the power to compel a death-demon. Manga/J-horror Americanisation; effective if you go with its dream-logic (the Phantasm movies get a shout-out as a clue), with some good performances and strong direction from Wingard.